Primed For Hate

Sheeple                                                      Photo Credit:

I just love this article, “What if We’ve All Been Primed?” written by Tom Nokkola and taken from his blog,  It provides some really good insight on why we form cultural tribes and how the COVID-19 saga has put this process on steroids.  It also challenges us to break free from this by questioning some commonly accepted beliefs.

The main premise is something called behavioral priming, which leads us to think in specific ways that pit us against one another.  Behavioral priming, Nokkola says:

is the ability to influence someone’s thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors without them knowing about it, through exposing them to a previous stimulus.  For example, repeating the phrase, “Stay home. Stay safe.” could be a form of priming, as it has the potential to impact the way people think (or don’t think and just do), speak, or act.”

Quite simply Stay home. Stay safe leaves the distinct implication that if you don’t stay home you are putting yourself and others in jeopardy, you are a danger to the tribe. Hearing the phrase often enough solidifies this truth in the mind and gives license to shame others who don’t follow it.

Interestingly enough, the fear of getting sick with the coronavirus plays right in to this.  According to this article from the BBC , fear can even change our psyches making us even more tribalistic.  The article goes on to say:

“Due to some deeply evolved responses to disease, fears of contagion lead us to become more conformist and tribalistic, and less accepting of eccentricity. Our moral judgements become harsher and our social attitudes more conservative…”

Hmmmm, moral judgements becoming harsher, what say you Karen?

Another commonly heard phrase Nikkola discusses is, We’re all in this together. This also creates a divide with others whose circumstances do not lend them to want to participate in this grand cultural kumbaya moment of pandemic fighting from their couches.

Maybe for them not working literally means not eating.  Or perhaps they are financially stable, but worried about the negative effects of the shutdowns vastly outweighing those from the coronavirus. Both are perfectly sane positions, but have somehow become demonized because they infer we are not all in this together, which again threatens the status quo.

New normal is another one.  This is frequently used to describe how life will be different after we exit our shelter in place holes and implies we better just darn well get used to it.  It’s just the new normal they say and it’s going to be repeated ad nauseam in the weeks and months ahead.

Disagreeing with this implies that you want to make people unsafe by not being on board with, say, making structural changes to society, which Joe Biden stated when discussing his coronavirus response strategy.

These types of phrases also feed in to the natural human inclination to feel morally superior over others. Once that takes effect people get very nasty because they now have a vested interest in being right about your deplorable behavior and will quickly devolve to rude and obnoxious behavior when this belief is challenged.

Nikkola suspects, and I agree with him, there are motives behind this which may not be so pure and that our default action should be to ask questions.  As he says:

“What if, by you simply asking, “What if?” you start to feel less concerned about COVID-19, and more about where we’re headed as a country?  We all need to ask more questions rather than accept all answers.”

He is not saying there is some Grand Poobah pulling levers behind a curtain, merely that large events such as a global pandemic create much confusion and panic, which people will exploit.  That’s not crazy talk, just the natural inclination of man in a fallen world.

My perspective?  We are living through an historic moment where the simultaneous catastrophes of a global pandemic and economic shut down have collided with the perfect fear inducing trifecta of 24/7 news, social media narrative setting and the most contentious election year probably in our lifetime.

Needless to say we are saturated in fear, outrage and misinformation and it’s affecting not just how major public policy decisions are being made, but how we relate to each other too.

You can bet there are people out there wanting to exploit this to their advantage.




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31 Responses to Primed For Hate

  1. Sue Cass says:

    This whole “Pandemic” has been totally and completely about manipulation, control, and fear from the very beginning for a specific political agenda. And like you said, It will go on for quite some time.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Doug says:

    I think we can agree this “tribal stuff” has existed since the last election (and if you were passionate before that, then likely you think tribalism has existed for decades) and not a spawn of this pandemic. Here’s what it all boils down to…. trust. It’s the trust we give as individuals to other people, places, and things.. and determined by whatever our own life experiences feed the degree of critical thinking anyone of us might exercise in order to assign a level of trust. Nikkola suggests the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, and you can toss into the mix frequency illusion, confirmational bias, etc. even gaslighting. In essence any situation, event, whatever, being presented to you, is your choice to trust as being accurate/factual, or do your own homework if trust isn’t your thing for the source of that information.
    But then that can take you to the next level of trust… what source do you seek out that is.. trustworthy.. in order for you to determine the original “trust”? To the extreme, some folks literally have some degree of acquired paranoia personality disorder.. the inability to trust people because of varied unfounded suspicions and motivations… as it pertains to life in general (in worst cases) or things like politics, the workplace, relationships, etc..

    So.. I wake up one day and we have a pandemic on our doorstep… that our government was reluctant to even call a “pandemic” at first. People are suddenly getting sick, clogging the health systems of big cities, and many are simply dying. I challenge ANYONE to not watch/listen to the media as to what what is going on. Why do we do that if we don’t trust it? “Oh, I’ll listen.. I just won’t believe them.”
    Then the tribalism kicks in… and Trump supporters assign the entire attention being lavished by the media as an attack on Trump. Feel free to simmer and marinate on that all you want. I prefer to trust more than distrust… and we can post-mortem this later at a time more appropriate. I am more than willing to trust my elected government to react to situations like this pandemic in good faith to their pledge to protect and defend the nation to the point of surrendering some rights to assure a best outcome down the line.. then things returning to “normal” whatever that ends up being. If government chooses to abuse my trust then that falls on the individual(s) later on when the dust clears. Way, way too much Constitutional paranoia rather than having faith in that document to get us through.

    By the way.. Trump was doing just fine before all this to turn people off on hos re-election. This pandemic shortcoming response pretty much assures it. No need for any conspiracies as he does it to himself very reliably.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      Yes, I certainly agree Doug that people have been dividing themselves in to tribes since the day Adam and Eve were booted from the garden. The pysch ops tactics used to manipulate others and pit tribes against each other have been around forever too. It’s psychology 101 really and as IB states below, basic brainwashing.

      You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to believe that the way we communicate electronically and how people get their “news” now makes this much easier to do. Like I said I don’t think it’s a man behind the curtain thing but that a once in lifetime event like this can and will cause a vacuum which others will exploit. You see it in government all the time but I’m more fascinated in how citizens are reacting toward one another and how phrases like the ones mentioned in the post have contributed to it.

      Not sure where Trump comes in, must be a different post you are referencing.


      • Doug says:

        If you’re not sure where Trump comes in.. you’ve been asleep for the last 3+ years.
        As we speak the guy hasn’t even worn a mask in Michigan, continuing to send a defiant signal. I’m waiting for the “no mask” icon to come out showing a pic inside the red circle with a line through it. A new rallying cry for “patriotism”.
        Nah.. you’re right. No need to mention Trump at all.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tricia says:

          It’s just weird how so many of your comments on mine and other people’s blogs having nothing to do with Trump mention Trump. You should at least charge the man rent for taking up so much space in your head. You’d make a fortune!

          Liked by 2 people

          • Doug says:

            Because pretty much everything begins and ends with what that guy does, or does not. There’s also the other context… not many people on the respective blogs you are referring to have alternative political thought.. and the blogmasters such as yourself, tend to tolerate my differences in opinion… which is much to their, and your, credit, if in fact, you encourage diverse opinion. If you prefer your followers to lavish you with confirmation bias praise for a post without me damaging the mood… this is your blog to do as you wish.
            Oddly.. this isn’t about me trying to convince people one way or another. We are all way too set in our political ways. But no need to hide behind your frustrations over the pandemic affairs seeming to be an opportunistic attempt by Liberals hell bent on destroying Trump… without saying his name.


          • Tricia says:

            But is just weird that your differing opinion usually concerns Trump when the point of most posts have nothing to do with him. It’s little wonder then that you don’t find many people wishing to debate an issue they have not brought up.


          • Doug says:

            He’s always the elephant in the room (no pun intended.. well…). I don’t engage with expectations of any kind nor do I pursue anyone to reply. I’m not that needy. If I needed validation or acknowledgement for my opinion I’d be more active on those blogs more aligned with me. If anything I tend to respond to the frustration levels of others… and the promoting of this idea with some folks that one “tribe” is any more or less “patriotic” than the other. Keep in mind my original reply to your post included a continuation of behavioral theories and the concept of trust, from what you read from Nikkola… Trump being a followup afterthought. But.. I defer to what you wish for your own blog.


  3. In all things we are called to love and we must come to it that that alone can be our guiding signal. We are not required to agree. We must love and we must forgive.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really good stuff, Tricia!

    This is totally all about conditioning, brainwashing, pure propaganda, psy/ops. That probably sounds way out there, but we’ve been doing this sort of thing for decades in advertising, politics, Hollywood, government. It’s how you sell products, attract cult followers, build a brand, amass power. I can never really figure out what scares me more, that there is some “Grand Poobah pulling levers behind a curtain,” or that we’ve accidentally stumbled into our own foolishness.

    As to priming us for hatred, our Governor has a “report your neighbor” hotline going on. It’s also all a matter of public record, so some people grabbed it and posted it on-line, and now we can all search and see what “Karen” has said about us. It is kind of scary because while most of it is just dumb gossip, it demonstrates how easily people can be led to turn on one another, to rat you out, so to speak.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Tricia says:

      Thanks IB and no, what you say about propaganda and brainwashing is not “way out there” at all. It’s like you said, a way to build a brand which is why advertising companies get paid millions of dollars to push phrases out that make people want to buy their clients’ products. That’s a very good point too you bring up about us possibly having stumbled in to our own foolishness. That’s been my viewpoint mostly, but you’re right, that is at least equally scary if not more than the Grand Poohba guy!

      “Report your neighbor” hotline…gee, what could go wrong with that?


      • The Night Wind says:

        After WW2 ended, a sociological study in France learned that most who had informed on other Frenchmen to the Nazis weren’t actually sympathetic to them, but saw it as a way to eliminate rivals or curry favor with the ‘New Normal’ for economic or social gain.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Dennis says:

    I am NOT participating in the stay home, wear a mask b s.
    Be independent of be a shepal. Makes no difference to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The Night Wind says:

    What it sounds like Nokkola is describing is Political Correctness. I’ve been warning for a long time that PC would lead to ‘Cancel Culture’ and that the two together would lead to something like this. All that Postmodern society needed were enough graduates from dumbed-down public schools, a sensationalist press, an over-medicated public in a narcotic stupor; to create a nation of NPCs and SJWs who could do the Elite’s bidding on auto-pilot. It’s useless to reason with these people after a certain point. They’ve never asked ‘why?’ in their lives and consider asking questions dangerous.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Doug says:

      Ok.. here’s a question for you.. who exactly are the “elites” that are apparently treating you so unfairly?
      Now, having asked that question… I perfectly speculate each person has a different idea of how their “elite” is defined. But I seldom if at all ever use the term.. although perhaps that itself then defines me as some sort of elite.. although I’ve never thought of myself as one by any definition. I’m white.. therefore it is automatically assumed these days I have lived some level of “white privilege”… along with being the race that currently absorbs all the nation’s racial disparity and abuse responsibility going back to Plymouth Rock. But that’s a whole other topic. But given you’ve used the term “elites” I was curious.


  7. Perfectly stated Tricia— hence my defiance over wearing a mask— is it truly going to keep a well me “safe” from others— and visa versa— probably not—
    Yep, control the masses at any cost— still channeling my Patrick Henry spirit!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Salvageable says:

    Very well said. One does not have to be a conspiracy theorist to see the manipulation that is being practiced by the media and by a great many politicians. “They” have always wanted us to be afraid. Now that something fear-worthy has actually happened, “they” want to keep us frightened for as long as they can. J.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. artaxes says:

    “You can bet there are people out there wanting to exploit this to their advantage.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Citizen Tom says:


    The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is real enough. Fortunately, it is not as dangerous as we first feared. The problem is that some people are vile opportunists.

    One thing that the Liberal Democrats’ infatuation with identity politics has revealed is that we can be divided by almost anything. We associate with people “like us”. What does “like us” mean? What have we been taught to think it means?

    As Christians, we accept Jesus’ teaching that everyone is potential a child of God. To be born again as one of His children we must repent of our sins and put our trust in Him. Once we do that this Coronavirus (COVID-19) thing becomes a small matter.

    I wear a mask in public because our silly governor requires it (where he got that authority is another matter) and I don’t want to bring COVID-19 home to my lady. She is not terrorized by it, but she give me grief if she thinks I have the flu. Sigh!

    Eventually the virus will go away or we will both decide we need to see the grandkids. Love conquers all fears and all divisions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tricia says:

      I so agree with this comment Tom. Love does conquer all fear and divisions but so many people have no idea what that word really means. The Coronavirus will eventually go away but vile opportunists unfortunately will not as we see so plainly now with the George Floyd fiasco.

      Liked by 1 person

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